FUBAR

A double standard on free speech

Suppose you’re a U.S. citizen concerned about some issue or the other –something happening to the environment, maybe, or perhaps a seeming injustice.

You’ve composed careful letters to members of Congress, showed up at political forums and written op-ed pieces for the local paper, and you seem to be making no progress whatsoever. You are one of 300 million in this country, and those numbers seem to sum up your influence: You are a minuscule fraction of the whole, an unheard, unheeded whisper in a mighty, roaring crowd.

Then you bump into an idea.

Paris Hilton mania is a societal shortfall

Paris Hilton says that being in lockup for a few weeks was traumatic. I think being shot at in Iraq would be traumatic — not taking a little time off from having every whim satisfied on a whim. Nonetheless, different folks have different levels of trauma-handling ability. She apparently reached hers. (The lovely Paris was sent to jail for driving on a suspended license following a DUI charge. And good for that judge.)

Troubling signs from the Supremes

The impact of the Supreme Court’s latest First Amendment rulings is well defined in one case and not so in the other, leaving a host of special interests applauding wildly and those who believe that student speech is as protected as any other shaken.

The practical result of the court’s 5-4 decision to allow issue ads before an election that mention a specific candidate probably will be to substantially increase the cost of the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, already approaching a record of over $1 billion.

CIA still hiding a lot

While the CIA is lauded for releasing 700 pages documenting some of its most egregious 1950-1970 abuses, critics say the US spy agency remains secretive about its current controversial activities, critics said.

“We don’t know everything that’s going on today. But it seems to me there’s already enough evidence to conclude that things are not so different today,” said David Barrett, political scientist at Villanova University, author of a 2005 book on the CIA and Congress in the 1940s and 1950s, speaking to the New York Times.

A fitting end to a stupid suit

The case of the $67 million pants — the plaintiff later generously knocked it down to $54 million — is over for the time being, but for a week or so it vied with Paris Hilton in the public attention paid to jurisprudence.

But this case was sadder than that of the jailbird heiress and also more serious.

The background: After three years of unemployment, Washington attorney Roy Pearson finally netted a good job and treated himself to a $1,000 suit. He took it to his local dry cleaners for $10.50 in alterations.

I am therefore I blog

I once asked a friend of mine, a novelist, why so many writers have drinking problems. “A better question is why so many drinkers have writing problems,” he replied.

His response came to mind recently, when I began to toy with the idea of starting a blog. Although the contrarian in me is attracted to the prospect of being the last law professor in America without one, the advantages of the form are obvious.

CIA Castro murder plot revealed

The CIA recruited a former FBI agent to approach two of America’s most-wanted mobsters and gave them poison pills meant for Fidel Castro during his first year in power, according to newly declassified papers released Tuesday.

Contained amid hundreds of pages of CIA internal reports collectively known as “the family jewels,” the official confirmation of the 1960 plot against Castro was certain to be welcomed by communist authorities as more proof of their longstanding claims that the United States wants Castro dead.

Keeping abreast of the news

Mainstream American media are amateurs when it comes to exposing politicians. The European press has done it longer and better.

From the British tabloids to the muckraking papers of continental Europe, no elected official is safe from investigations, spoofs and pointed barbs.

Just ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Wprost, a conservative newsmagazine published in Poland put a artist’s composite of Merkel on the cover this week — blouse open, breasts exposed and Poland’s governing Kaczyski twins sucking away.

The headline: Europe’s Step-Mother. Imagine Newsweek with former President Bill Clinton on the cover, trousers down around his ankles and Monica Lewinsky on her knees, noshing on the First Member, or current President George W. Bush with his pants down and Tony Blair kissing his naked butt.

Supremes side with special interests

The Supreme Court Monday loosened campaign finance restrictions in a ruling on free speech that will give lobby groups a louder voice in television ads for next year’s presidential election.

In a 5-4 ruling, the nation’s highest tribunal found that the rights to free speech of interest groups had been unfairly curbed by a law that limited their influence in the final stretch of electioneering.

Bong hits for the first amendment

In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” It was a good ruling with exceptions that allowed school officials to bar speech that advocated dangerous or illegal conduct or was substantially disruptive.